Some scholars of what is conventionally called the Chinese legal system believe that it is so different from Western legal systems that it should not be analyzed using the same terms, and perhaps should not be called a “legal system”. Other scholars critique this view on the grounds that it is ethnocentric and Orientalist. I critique the critique on the grounds that it methodologically excludes even the possibility of finding China (or anywhere) to be genuinely different, and thus blinds us to the possibility of radically different ways of organizing society.
Donald Clarke is a professor at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., where he specializes in modern Chinese law, focusing particularly on corporate governance, Chinese legal institutions, and the legal issues presented by China's economic reforms. He has previously been on the law faculties of the University of Washington School of Law and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and has been a visiting professor at Duke Law School, New York University School of Law, and the UCLA School of Law. In addition to his academic work, he founded and maintains Chinalaw, the leading internet listserv on Chinese law, and writes the Chinese Law Prof Blog. He was educated at Princeton University (A.B.) and the University of London (M.Sc.), and received his law degree (J.D.) from Harvard Law School, where he was a member of the Harvard Law Review. He has served as a consultant on Chinese law matters to a number of organizations, including the Financial Sector Reform and Strengthening Initiative (FIRST), the Asian Development Bank, and the Agency for International Development. He is a member of the New York bar and the Council on Foreign Relations.